One of the few positives that has come from quarantine is having more time to read (67 books so far in 2020, not counting comic books and audiobooks), and I’ve been trying to mix in at least one Masonic book a month. This month, I was asked to read Welcome To The Brickyard for review, and I’m always excited to read new Masonic material (sorry Pike!) so I jumped right in.
I should start by explaining that this book really isn’t meant for Freemasons, it’s meant for people who are considering becoming a Freemason, which makes it really tough for me to say how useful it is for the target audience. If you’ve been around the quarries for a few years, most everything in here is going to be old knowledge to you, but it may still be worth having around to give to a potential candidate.
The book starts by discussing what Freemasonry is, if you should consider joining or not, and a basic explanation of some of the rules and requirements for candidates. It then discusses how to research a lodge, including some very helpful information on clandestine lodges, and finishes by walking through the process of petitioning, being interviewed, and how a lodge vote works. This is a very short book (roughly 1 hour long total), which is perfect for new candidates who can easily become overwhelmed.
There are many books that cover the same material as this; it’s very likely your Grand Lodge even offers one. This book does distinguish itself slightly by being funny, which is sorely lacking in a lot of Masonic literature, and depending on the candidate that may reach them better than the normal dry, stodgy pamphlets for candidates. Having said that, some of the jokes are really only understandable after you have taken the degrees, so I imagine they’ll fly over the head of the target audience.
There is some great information in here that isn’t generally covered by this type of book, such as signs to help recognize a clandestine lodge, and what happens if the vote doesn’t go positive for you, and I congratulate the author on including information such as this. It is also written in a conversational style, whereas most candidate books are designed more as lectures or textbooks, and I think that alone makes it useful. Having said that, depending on the individual reading it, that style may be very off-putting, especially when the first two pages cite Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
So far, this sounds rather negative, which is a shame because this really is a good book to give to a candidate, and I intend to purchase a handful of copies to give out to individuals who show a high enough interest in Freemasonry to be a petitioner. If you’re a lodge secretary, I would recommend getting a copy to check out for yourself, and see if it would be useful for your lodge to hand out as well.
Welcome To The Brickyard can be purchased at www.practicalfreemasonry.com